A MAN who punched a doctor and made threats to kill a nurse at Royal Bournemouth Hospital has been jailed for four months.
Dutch national Serge Van Den Heerik was taken to the hospital's accident and emergency department after he appeared to suffer a seizure on March 17, Bournemouth Magistrates’ Court heard.
Nicola Reese, prosecuting, said medical staff were carrying out sensory tests on Van Den Heerik, who seemed to be unconscious, before he suddenly “lashed out” and punched Doctor David Martin in the chest.
The 38-year-old then attempted to bite staff nurse Penelope Smith on her left hand as she and her colleagues tried to restrain him, Ms Reece said.
He spat at her and said “Now you have Aids. You're going to die” and made threats to kill the nurse, judge Stephen Nicholls was told.
The court heard that when he was interviewed by the police Van Den Heerik, of Southcote Road, said he couldn't remember the incident and had been drinking cheap cider all day with a friend.
Mike Flynn, defending, said Van Den Heerik admitted he had a drinking problem and was “devastated” when he was told he had punched a doctor. He added: “While he does have a number of medical complaints, he does not seek to excuse or condone his behaviour.”
Mr Flynn said his client was “genuinely remorseful” and he had written letters to Ms Smith and Dr Martin to apologise for his “unacceptable behaviour”.
Van Den Heerik, a former business management student at the University of Amsterdam, pleaded guilty to two charges of assault and one of making threats with intent to cause fear.
In a statement, which was read aloud to the court, Ms Smith said hospital staff should not have to tolerate being threatened and assaulted. She said: “As a health professional, it’s very disturbing to deal with. We are there to try to help people get better not to be assaulted and threatened.”
The court heard Ven Den Heerik had a number of previous convictions, some as recent as last year.
Sentencing him to four-month prison terms for each of the three charges, to be served concurrently, Judge Stephen Nicholls said: “In my view, this is serious enough for an immediate custodial sentence.
“This is an offence on people carrying out public service duties. Quite understandably they expect to be protected when carrying out their work.”
Protect show that there were a total of 61,571 assaults on NHS staff during 2012/13. This works out at 58 assaults per 1,000 staff.
The majority of these – 43,699 – were in the mental health sector, followed by 16,475 in the acute sector, which includes hospitals.
The latest figures for Poole Hospital show that there were 80 assaults on staff in 2012/13, 63 of which involved medical factors, which means the perpetrator did not know what they were doing because of medical illness, mental ill health or treatment administered.
None of these cases resulted in criminal sanctions.
There were 115 assaults on staff at the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch hospitals during the same period.
Fifty-six of these involved medical factors.
One incident resulted in criminal sanctions.
VIOLENCE against staff is on the rise at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital with 133 incidents reported last year.
In 2012 there were 112 cases and in 2011 a total of 105.
Director of Human Resources Karen Allman said staff are urged to report incidents and said they also receive training.
She told the Daily Echo: “Our hospitals are a safe and caring environment and we will not tolerate any form of violence or aggression, including verbal abuse, against our staff, visitors or patients.
“We encourage staff to report every incident, and they are given training on how to deal with aggression and violence based on the likelihood of them experiencing this in their working environment.”
A spokesman on behalf of Poole Hospital said: “Poole Hospital takes a zero-tolerance approach to aggression and violence towards staff, and take appropriate action – including involving the police – whenever incidents like these are reported.
“Staff receive specific training to help prevent such incidents from occurring, while staff responsible for security provide further reassurance and support.”